Competition Commission is to examine cinema merger

The Picture House on Hatter Street
The Picture House on Hatter Street
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Cineworld’s takeover of the Picturehouse cinema chain has been referred to the Competition Commission by the Office of Fair Trading.

There are concerns the merger, which included Abbeygate Picturehouse in Bury St Edmunds, reduces competition and could restrict choice and increase prices for cinema-goers.

Charles McDonald, spokesman for Picturehouse, said: “This isn’t a surprising decision, purely and simply because it’s the first time the OFT has had to deal with cinema acquisition like this, but I think we at Picturehouse are quietly confident that Picturehouse and Cineworld are two fundamentally different businesses, serving different customers, and we’re confident we’ll be able to demonstrate this clearly to the Competition Commission.”

A Cineworld spokeswoman said it was business as usual at both cinemas. A decision is expected in mid-October.